Devin Tiffany grabbed a defensive rebound and as he attempted to pass the ball to Blake Joppy, Tiffany tripped over Joppy and travelled. The pair of Urbana High School boys basketball players spoke with each other for a moment to work out the positioning problem and then headed up court to play defense.
Little moments such as that — along with plenty of impressive play — filled Urbana's 53-52 victory against Gov. Thomas Johnson in the first game of the Tuscarora Shootout on Wednesday morning. Urbana trailed late and chipped away until Matt Loescher's game-winning layup in the final seconds.
“Everybody played well,” said Tim Summers, Urbana's summer league coach. “We just need to be a little more organized.”
Tiffany and Joppy have worked together just two weeks.
Joppy, a rising senior, spent his first three years of high school at Proctor Academy in New Hampshire, where he played football. But the Clarksburg native is considering transferring to Urbana, and he's worked out with the Urbana basketball team for the past couple weeks.
Though Joppy said he likes his summer league teammates, the Frederick area and Urbana High School, he said his mom will be the pivotal factor.
“It's really up to her,” Joppy said. “I'm a mother's boy.”
He said if he transfers, he'd also likely play football as a running back, wide receiver or cornerback.
Joppy displayed the quickness of a skill-position football player Wednesday, constantly using his speed to force steals and diving to the floor after several loose balls. And when the point guard collected an errant dribble or pass, he excelled at turning it into a fastbreak opportunity. In addition, Joppy displayed a quality 3-point shot.
The 6-foot-3 Tiffany also looked the part of a football player, though he said he doesn't play the sport. He banged inside on both ends of the floor to score and rebound. Multiple times Tiffany — a rising junior power forward who played for the junior varsity team last season — missed his own shot inside and followed with a putback basket.
Urbana coach John Cooper, who didn't attend Wednesday's game, previously said he's looking to a group of forwards moving up from junior varsity, including rising sophomore Ian Eversull and rising junior Connor Wrightson, to play a key role next season.
“I need one of those guys to step up and give us about 10 points a game,” Cooper said.
Eversull and Wrightson had their moments, and Tiffany certainly made his case. All three, along with Urbana's other young players, need more experience.
Even Loescher's game-winning layup came off a miscue. As Gov. Thomas Johnson shot free throws in the game's closing moments, Joppy asked Summers, “Can we get a timeout?”
Summers shook his head.
“Attack,” he replied.
Joppy complied well, dashing into the paint, but he lost his dribble. Thankfully for Urbana, the ball trickled to Loescher.
“The more we'll play, the better we'll get, because we haven't had much time yet,” Summers said. “But we need to keep playing, and we'll get better as we go.”